Hi, Rich. Darned if I know. My only criteria when buying a mower are Briggs & Stratton engine and price. Whatever the home center has on sale is about the same as the next one using these criteria. For what it's worth, there are a bunch of manufacturers in the midwest that have a stamping press for the decks, benders for the handles and that's about it. Everything else is assembled from purchased parts. These usually are store brands.
Using the tabs to change the height is nice, but once it is set, you never change it again anyway. Changing 4 bolts is not that much more difficult and that system doesn't break as easily. I am tall and my lot is flat. A self-propelled doesn't move as fast as I want to. I am convinced that a "mulching" mower is just one that throws wads of grass down instead of out the side--more advertising hype than any real benefit. Ever had a mower repaired? Costs $40-50 just to bring it in. If I can't fix it, I buy a new one but thats why I want a B&S engine.
Again, there are as many different "right" mowers as there are lawns so what are my criteria should not be your criteria. My parents lot was considerably bigger and on a steep grade in the back. Self-propelled was a big help on that one. After I moved away, my Dad really liked an electric start. Now, I think messing with a battery is more trouble than it's worth for me. But this could sure change down the road. Our kids have 2 acres and a rider. So think about your needs because this is not a "one answer fits all" situation.